Grace, Truth and assholes

The daily facetime I partake of is quite lovely. A time of gentle preparation, a time of gentle focus, a time of gentle review of the past 24 hours, sensing where my Father has been present – where I have become engrossed, and a preparation to feast on The Word, to extract The Juice, to feel The Spirit …

And then He goes and spoils it all. With a rip-roaring, stand-up, knock-em-down, full-on comedy routine that leaves me helpless with laughter!

Why do I bother?

“While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee invited him to dine with him; so he went in and took his place at the table. The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not first wash before dinner. Then the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? So give for alms those things that are within; and see, everything will be clean for you.”” Luke 11:37-41

>> “Wash before dinner” – the voice of my mum ringing in my ears! That sacrosanct ritual of water on grubby skin. Reluctant ticking of a box. Fulfilling the minimum requirement in order to get a plate of food. “Have you washed your hands?” with the occasional check of front and back. And the even more occasional “sniff for soap.” And the “banged to rights” rush to the bathroom after being found guilty of fibbing.

Ah … happy memories – and lots of chuckles with them!

>> “Grace and Truth” – like wot Jesus does and we try to emulate. There is the host serving lunch / dinner / tea / breakfast. There is Jesus plonking himself down with relish. Then the host’s shifty eyes. The millimetre of eyebrow raising. The silent tut-tut. No sniffing for soap needed that day!

Because we all buy-into that “it’s not what goes in which matters” stuff. So we work hard to catch the “coming out” stuff – and choke on our automatic clever / angry / hurtful / selfish (and sometimes) truthful (intended) responses.

But then Jesus … and that is what gets me … what cracks me up:

None of our pretend “Smile and Silent”. Our “diplomacy” we like to think of as grace and/or truth. No “Mr Popular 2014 contest” – none of that.

And yet … something in this response from Jesus. Something we miss too often:

Jesus was responding to a Pharisee. A teacher. A leader. One of the religious elite. A sower and reaper for God. A role model for holy relationship.

And more and more I am differentiating between speaking the truth – and me just being me. Between “grace and truth” and me simply “sticking a cork in it.” Because as a Follower of the Way am I not a role model for relationship with God (and if I am not – then what is this all about)?

And more and more there is a blurring between “me and them.” Because the more I walk with Him, the more I live in and out, within and without, over there and over here – the more I walk with Him – the more I see inside – inside where He lives …

The more I see that His “truth” is not the “truth” we love to assume is ours. Because His truth is embedded in something else. Yet we all so often confuse that with “Let’s get you saved today – I need the numbers!”

And His embedded “grace” is something we so often portray as “See this silent contorted face? That is me forgiving you. That is “grace” in action. You could do with learning that, asshole!” Because I have never seen that “contorted face” in Jesus. I see something much more honest and real – so much more than ever I imagine I am.

Because doesn’t my Lord and Father hear with clarity both my spoken and unspoken words – are not my thoughts still words – is not my heart still speaking – inside – where He lives?

And I wonder (as He chuckles quietly behind me) … if we wrote the bible today – would we have to re-label this phrase we all use: Grace and Truth? Might we not have to add another word to those two words?

And just who might Jesus be calling the “asshole” – when He speaks today with that wondrous “Grace and Truth” we so love to call our own?


26 thoughts on “Grace, Truth and assholes

  1. Ha! What a question… I have developed thought of who today’s Pharisees are, but it will stay there. I try to push it away because it is judgmental and somedays only the outside of my cup is clean.

  2. I like to think that to those that have ears will hear and those that have the heart of God will be the salt of the earth. Not that I am always doing both brother hahaha. However if God calls me to put up with arrogant no it all people , then I will be the salt if he will give me the wisdom to do so, and I am hearing that day.There is a higher calling on men and women of God. You know I bet he set a pretty hard example for those old boys haha! You can just see them squirming and fuming,the audacity of him not to wash lol. I believe Jesus had a low tolerance for those… what did you call them hahahah! rolling on the floor laughing out loud. I am hearing and seeing in color today at this post. Clarity for sure. Thank you brother Paul for your candid and often humorous look on things. It brings freshness to the staleness of me weee! little life hahaha! Well said bro well said.

    PS Lord help me to show love and genuine grace to others.

    Much love Tom.

    • Tom, I love your dropping by and sharing a cuppa! Here’s to full technicolor! Makes life so much brighter!!

      PS Lord help me to show love and genuine grace to others.

    • You are talking my kind of language. And a question, Don – because I remember a post where you described leading a service and the Holy Spirit “taking over”. Is that not where “the finesse” of getting it right comes easiest?

      My problem is stepping back and letting go!

      • This will sound crazy, and maybe it is, but at least for me, it isn’t really a matter of letting go at all, it’s more a matter of trusting.

        On that particular day, I was prepared; I could have made that presentation in my sleep. It was scripted, I had written jokes, 2 and even 3 punchline jokes. I had the illustrations, the academics, the Greek word translatons… it was a masterpiece!

        Then I got up and started… and after a sentence or two my mind went fuzzy and eventually more or less blank; that NEVER happens to me when speaking to an audience. Then new and different words started coming out of my mouth and I was more or less listening just like everyone else…

        Since then, the only prep I do is to be familiar with the text. I sometimes spend as much as 10 or 15 minutes going over it, and then I stand up and the words come, just like it says in Acts. Often, writing blog posts is the same way.

      • “… for me, it isn’t really a matter of letting go at all, it’s more a matter of trusting.”

        This may sound crazy (to anyone else outside these ripples): Little Monk said something similar. LM’s picture was brain surgery and of the surgeons hands simply resting on His, being guided and directed by His. Therefore a ton of detailed was irrelevant (and perhaps even rude?). And again – in a similar way to your words – now “prepared” but no longer “PrePared”

        In both cases – your areas of trust were in areas of expertise.

        I wonder if that helps. Because despite my best endeavours and intent the stepping back (through trust) – or not in my case – all too often happens in areas of inexpertise. Which is where trust, perhaps, is even more relevant.

        Blogs – amen. Expertise areas – amen. “Stretch” areas? Hmmmmm ….

  3. Wonderful words 🙂 and a great reminder that we can “clean up” our outsides, do and say all the right things, but He sees and knows the truth of our heart. Thank you for this!

  4. Isn’t it kinda neat that all of us are over here at Paul’s house hanging out and he isn’t here right now. Now thats comfort and love. I feel welcomed just to put my feet up on the furniture for a bit.

  5. “The more I see that His ‘truth’ is not the ‘truth’ we love to assume is ours.” This statement stood out to me, Paul. I think I’ve seen too many make the decision that because Jesus said or did something, it’s okay for us to do the same. I have a problem with this simply because He’s God – we’re not. It seems perfectly fine for Jesus to call out a Pharisee, or to tell someone to stop sinning. Seems like that’s His job, not ours.

    I think when we do that, we’re in danger of taking a bite out of the same apple as Adam and Eve; we want the same knowledge and power as God. We fall into the same temptation. Instead of hearing and obeying Jesus’ commands to love God, love our neighbor, love our enemy and not judge (and not name-call, by the way :-/ )

    I did get the humor in your post, btw; just want to bring to the conversation my own thoughts about actual grace and the offering of that contorted-face-grace that’s not so gracious, along with handing out some other things that don’t meet the qualifications of grace at all. 😉

  6. Pingback: Grace, Truth, God and Me | Just me being curious

  7. I didn’t post this to Susan’s page because I didn’t feel like I offended her with my post I made above. I believe I publicly offended God.I didn’t mean to.I just got in the groove. So publicly I apologize Lord. Forgive me for my judgmental attitude. I would have fit perfectly in that crowd. Oh but for grace. Thank you Holy Spirit for helping me to see my error, through Susan’s post.

    Much Love Tom

    PS brother Paul I hope you didn’t mind me hijacking your page.

    • Dearest Tom – you know what’s in your heart. Yet your words above have nothing I see as offending or not offending – no one at all – and certainly not God.

      I wonder sometimes if God sighs a little: “Oh Ma-an! Why do you all take me so seriously? I like to party, I like your ways, I chuckle at your slapstick and slipping over and getting up … I love every bit of each of you! But most of all I love your hearts. I love cuddling and snuggling with you. if you want to cry with Me – let’s snuffle … if you hurt – let’s hug .. and if you think you offended Me – let’s walk aways and whisper together those things we share only between us … and I Will Heal You.”

      Love you Tom – more and more.

      • I agree with everything you said Paul. In thinking again maybe I should have kept it to myself. I did feel like I was in my heart elavating myself above people that would live by the word of God before they even got a interest in knowing him. I do think I am way to serious at times. God does enjoy laughter and fun. However I really believe he was setting a example for those fellows in tender grace and love. Not in a judgemental way.He had not yet came to judge, but to give life and love. He wanted then to see his love and not be hung up on living his word to a tee. I laugh because of my feeble little brain. I will release this to Jesus and enjoy life.This I know God wants me to do. In closing God is approachable, loving, funny, and likes a good jominike. After all I got these emotions from someone. I believe from God.

      • “maybe I should have kept it to myself” – why?

        “Isn’t it kinda neat that all of us are over here at Paul’s house hanging out …” – man that touched me somewhere very deep inside.

        Our minister said to me the other Sunday: “We don’t do guilt here” and I reckon that is cool way to live.


  8. Reading this today, and having read the exact same passage yesterday morning, with similar thoughts as “seeing the scene” in my mind – Mr. Important being confronted with the most honesty he may have ever encountered. I don’t have any neat boxes where I always know what it means or doesn’t mean to follow the example of Christ. But I was very stunned, in a way never before, by his words and the setting he gave them in. I was wondering how it would be received today. I have these bothersome inner fires that burn to speak truth that confronts the status quo in American Christianity, and it ends up on an anonymous blog because I don’t have the courage for that kind of honesty attached to my real identity, because it’s not aimed personally at anyone – but is often taken that way. Anyway – sorry to ramble but I loved this!! 🙂

    • What a gorgeous anonymous rambling comment! Thank you!! 🙂

      And what wonderful wisdom: I don’t have any neat boxes … what it means it or doesn’t mean … bothersome inner fires … it’s not aimed personally … but is often taken that way.

      I have come to the conclusion that there is no one right way. That “here I am and this is me” has as many pitfalls as “guess who I am because I’m not telling”. That courage has less to do with this than listening (or seeing or sensing or knowing or whatever and however He speaks to each of us). And – crucially – a massive following is not necessarily how our Lord and Father does things.

      My own relationship with Him has settled on “dropping pebbles”. My role is to listen and write a pebble. Pressing “publish” is the plop – and then whatever ripples happen “happen”. That is His territory not mine.

      The more I read and listen the more I see Jesus as the Great Pebble Dropper. His debates seem focused on the religious elite rather than anywhere else. “Anywhere else” seems to be more a series of “plops” – with more grace, style and precision humanity than I could ever claim.

      I ponder neat boxes as my need rather than His. I do have inner fires though – and yet when I listen He always adds a twist. One that makes me see His mirror – and a less than comfortable reflection mostly! 🙂

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